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Types of Snow Shovels

Mukulika Mukherjee
A shovel is an essential tool to keep your garden and driveway free from snow during the winters. But do you know what are the different types of shovels, and how they are different from one another?

The Electric Snow Shovel ...

... is expensive, but it is effective when you wish to shovel huge amounts of snow with minimal effort.
It's winter time and the world around you is covered in snow. While we can't deny that the snow reminds us of the holiday season and Christmas, too much of the powdery mass can pose a hazard to anyone walking or can be a nuisance for your vehicles.
The deep snow can damage the tires and prolonged exposure to snow can cause rusting of the rims. Add to that, the fact that it's difficult or even dangerous to drive on a snowy pathway, and you have more reasons than one to get rid of the snow for good.
So, what are the options when it comes to removing the snow effectively and efficiently, i.e., with less effort and in a short period of time? Well, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a shovel―the simple household tool that you use to scoop out snow.
Are all shovels the same? Definitely not, for shovels are classified on the basis of the material used for making it, the dimensions of its head, the specific purpose, and the shape of the front edge.
Overlooking the automated shovels or snow throwers in the market, let's see the different types of shovels that require manual effort, and also their intended uses.

According to the Material Used

The shovels that you commonly find can be aluminum, steel, and plastic. Let us learn about each.

► Aluminum Snow Shovels

Aluminum snow shovels are the most common type of snow shovel used. Their durability makes them popular, and the fact that they are less expensive than their steel counterparts.
Another advantage is that aluminum is a lightweight metal, which makes these shovels easy to use. Available in different handle lengths and head shapes, aluminum snow shovels are ideal for removing light snow. Depending on the shape and length of the handle, the use of some models might result in stress on the muscles of the back, legs, arms, and shoulders.

► Steel Snow Shovel

Ideal for shoveling huge amounts of snow, steel snow shovels are made of stainless steel, and are the most durable. However, they are also the most expensive and are heavier than snow shovels made of aluminum and other metals.
Just like aluminum, steel snow shovels are also available in different shapes and sizes. If you need a snow shovel to remove snow from relatively large areas, or you live in a region that experiences moderate to heavy snowfall, then this is the perfect one for you.

► Plastic Snow Shovel

If your region receives very light snowfall, then you can easily manage with a plastic snow shovel. Plastic snow shovels are available in an array of bright colors, and are manufactured from hard plastic.
The biggest advantage of plastic shovels is that they are easy to use, as they are lightweight, and since plastic is an insulator, they do not turn cold. Also, snow doesn't stick to plastic, which makes the task at hand much easier. Snow shovels specifically designed for kids are commonly made from plastic.

According to Head Dimensions

Snow shovels are available according to the different dimensions of the head (width of the head in inches), and let's learn about the 3 common sizes.

► 18-inch Snow Shovel

The 18-inch shovel has an almost negligible blade size, which makes it more useful in pushing snow than lifting it. However, the standard 18-inch snow shovels come with a slightly tilted handle that puts less strain on the muscles of the shoulders and the back.

► 24-inch Snow Shovel

The 24-inch shovel is better equipped to lift snow as it is deeper, which keeps snow from falling over the edges. Most snow shovels that you find are of this type.

► 30-inch Snow Shovel

If you're looking for a snow shovel that can be used for pushing as well as shoveling snow, then opt for a shovel of this size. However, the relatively larger width of the blade makes it unsuitable for use in very narrow spaces.

According to Purpose

Certain snow shovels are designed to shovel snow from specific areas, and here, we'll talk about them.

► Travel Snow Shovel

Also known as the emergency snow shovel, the prime feature of the travel snow shovel is that it can be easily folded, which makes it portable.
You can carry one with you on your road trip as you never know when you'd need it to clear the snow off your path. In fact, it is recommended that you include one in your emergency kit of your car during winters.

► Ergonomic Snow Shovels

The ergonomic snow shovel can be used by people who have back problems. This shovel is designed in such a way that is exerts less stress on the muscles of the back, arms, and shoulders. It can be used by anyone who wants to make shoveling snow a comfortable activity, and also cut down the risk of injury.
The beauty of this shovel lies in the design of its handle that is shaped in the form of the letter S. One can use it to shovel thick snow with relative ease. However, they are a bit more expensive than other non-ergonomic shovels.

► Scraper

Even though it cannot be technically classified as a shovel, the scraper comes handy when you need something to scrape off solid ice off your driveway or pavement.
After all, it is next to impossible to shovel solid ice, isn't it? This is where the short blade of the scraper works its magic!

► Roof Rake

A roof rake is a tool that consists of a thin aluminum blade along with a set of handles that helps you adjust its height when reaching out to different parts of a roof. Since accumulation of solid ice on the roof can cause damage, you should use one at regular intervals to scrape off the excess ice.

► Push Snow Shovels

At times, pushing snow more than solves the problem, and shoveling isn't always necessary. For times like these and when there is very mild snowfall, a push snow shovel is the best option.
You can use it to push the powdery snow aside, and your job is done. This can really help when you're in a hurry and don't have time to lift the snow and dump it somewhere else. The round head facilitates the task of pushing snow.

According to the Shape of the Head

On the basis of the shape of the head, snow shovels are classified into the following 2 types:

► Square-nosed Shovel

The square-nosed shovel has a straight front edge and is a useful tool for scraping as well as shoveling snow.
How? Well, it's because the straight edge is effective in cutting through solid ice, while the depth makes it useful for lifting snow. Most snow square-nosed shovels are made from strong and durable material, such as stainless steel.

► Round-nosed Shovel

If you're looking for a shovel to scoop out hard snow and ice effectively, then you should choose a round-nosed shovel.
The rounded head makes it easier to remove thick layers of ice, without putting too much strain on your back. As you can see in the image given here, the shovel has a pointed tip, which can be used to dig through ice, and remove the drifts left behind by the snow plows.

Tips to Choose a Snow Shovel

A mere knowledge of the different types of shovels is not enough, as you must be aware of what to consider when choosing one. Here are a few tips to help you out.
► Consider the total area of your backyard or driveway that requires shoveling. If you have a large area, then it is recommended that you choose a shovel with a wider head. On the other hand, a narrow area can only be tackled with a shovel having a smaller blade width.
► Don't forget to take into consideration your comfort level in using the shovel. If it's too big or too heavy for comfort, then don't go for it.
► If you have to shovel a lot of snow quite frequently, invest in an ergonomic snow shovel, which will cut down the strain on your back, neck, and shoulders.
► It is a great idea to have more than one type of shovel. This way, you can choose the right one depending on your requirements of the moment.
► The amount of snowfall experienced by your region is another key criteria. Light snowfall can easily be tackled with a simple scraper.
Lastly, don't forget to use the shovel to see if it is comfortable enough, before you decide to buy it. After all, it's you who has to do all the shoveling, and your comfort matters for sure. Good Luck!